Trio Potted Garden

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

Trio Potted Garden with Drying Baskets

A trio of plants potted in small tin planters.  Sitting in the spring time sun soaking up the warmth.  The drying goods too appreciate the warm sun.  They will be ready when the customers come around following the sunset.  A simple day in the sun for simple objects.  Just another day in Ichikawa, Japan on the outskirts of Tokyo.


Wet Today, Sunshine Comes Tomorrow

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

Arching With Rain Drops

The rain came down in the tiniest of droplets all day on Friday.  It felt like walking out into a misting machine with the steadiness at which the drops fell from the sky.  The droplets layered themselves on top of one another.

Nothing could escape becoming soaked by the rain.  Umbrellas may have kept my head dry put my pants were sopping wet by the time I reached my home.  I only walked from the bus stop to my front door was enough to have me dripping.

I can’t really complain or I shouldn’t really complain even though I may gripe about the weather.  We have planted a patio garden and we are thankful that the garden is being watered for us.  The plants may struggle against the rain.  They may end up face down in the dirt after the rain, but it won’t last forever.  For surely the sun will rise tomorrow and the warmth of the sun spreads out over the earth.

The plants instinctively uplift themselves to catch the sunlight.  Their arching stems instinctively straighten themselves.  The roots, having been soaked the day before, distribute the water to the plants.

I do not worry, I know that the rain is needed.  The rain provides nutrients and nourishment, and will be followed eventually by the warmth of the sun.

Bisho Bisho Wild Poppy

Just Dandelions but I like ’em!

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

White Lion Dandelion  白タンポポ

This is the season for the lovely dandelion.  For many the dandelion in only a nuisance in the form of a yellow flowering weed, but that is not how I think of them.  They are lovely flowers that make their life so close to the earth.

They make their appearance in spring as yellow mane heads pop forth across the Japanese landscape.  The pop up wherever their seeds floated in from the previous year.  They wiggle their way into cracks in the pavement, and along the railroad tracks that criss cross the countryside.  They sprout proudly and before we know they under a metamorphosis and become balls of seeded fluff.  All ready to spread forth across the land.

They are always yellow or that is at least I thought until I came across something different.  Nestled in between a stone fence at a shrine I came across the elusive White Dandelion of Chiba Prefecture.  It was large and bold in the cloudy early afternoon light.  I never know if I will see another White Dandelion, I hope I do.  I will keep my lens open to see whatever chooses to cross in front of my focal plane.

Just Dandelion  タンポポ

Promise Acorn

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Promise Acorn [約束どんぐり]

There is a promise contained within the tough head of every acorn.  This promise has been handed down from generation after generation.  If the acorn find its way to the earth, becomes buried under the moist ground, is given thirst quenching water it too can grow into a mighty oak tree.

Nature’s covenant has been written into an acorn’s DNA structure.  If the natural progression is followed then the acorn can become a tree.  Yes that’s right, can.  There is no guarantee that all the elements needed to bring the seed to fruition will occur.  The acorn must adhere to nature’s laws to sprout into a mighty oak.

I could endlessly stare up and marvel at the mighty oak tree, and be reminded that it was once just an acorn at natures whim.

We can take measures to help the acorn along the way.  We can plant the acorn in soil.  Feed it the elixir of water.  Plant a barrier to keep the wind at bay in its youth.

Again, these acts can help the acorn to flourish, but a squirrel could come along and snatch it up for its long winter supper.  There are no guarantees.  There is the possibility for obstacles to cut the acorn’s life short.

There is always the promise, we have to live up to the promise.  Help nourish that promise along the way, and have faith that the roots will seep deep, and the branches will grow strong.

Remember the promise.



Stop and Smell the Fungus

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Verge of Orange, Temple Fungi 01

I almost missed these orange hued wonders as I made my way back to the station.  On Tuesdays, I like to cut through a buddhist temple in Ichikawa as part of relaxing end to my day.  It helps to put the world back into perspective as I come out of the fluorescents and into the sunshine.

The temple building itself is pretty new but its grounds must be a few hundred years old.  They include a hand hewn stairway that passes through an old wooden gate making the entering of sacred ground.

After being in a building for most of the day I like to get out into the small garden of this temple.  Last week the park was crammed full of cherry blossom watchers, whereas today the grounds were still.  I walked past a large tree when a few blips of orange caught my eye.  They were tiny in size but bold in the color they spoke, orange.

I had to turn around and get down on my knees in order to get the fungi into my view finder.  They were well worth the time.  The short pause after a long day is necessary.  The selfless act of noticing something so tiny that most walked straight on by with out even giving these little ones any thought or admiration.

They are on the verge of being.  They are there if we notice or don’t.  It is really up to us to take the time to breathe in the world around us.  To take in these lovely orange wonders for our stimulation.

Please take some time to stop and smell the fungus.

Verge of Orange, Temple Fungi 02

Flowers Know No Boundaries

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Flowers Know No Boundaries

Flowers know no boundaries.  They do not get caught up with the artificial borders that humans set up against each other.  The flowers know whats really up. Boundaries are only lines that are drawn on a map.  We humans give them meaning, but to the fauna world they might as well be invisible.  Well, in fact they usually are, unless, walls, fences, or barbed wire has been laid.

The wind know no boundaries too.  The wind scoops the tiny flowers of next spring in its arms and blows them across the world.  Fences never stand in their way.  Wall are overcome by simply going up and over.

The flowers instinct to survive and lay seeds for the next generation is an amazing force of nature.  Nothing can stop them from seeking the warmth of the ground to seep their roots.

They know no boundaries.  They are flowers.  They are all powerful in their simple exquisite perfection.



Ethiopian Dreams Satisfied, Gastronomic at Least

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

Ethiopian Feat with Stews and Injera

My love affair with Ethiopian cuisine started back in my days as a university student in Tampa, Florida.  I was a vegetarian at the time and a friend recommended that I try an Ethipian place called Ibex.

I really wasn’t sure what to expect there and was overjoyed to know that mt taste buds were blown away.  The whole experience of touching my food, to sharing the plate with the table, and the amazing spices seared itself into my memory.  I have never forgotten those days of scooping up some of the delicious stews with the injera bread.  A soft pancake like bread made of the smallest yet mighty super grain teff.

My taste buds and I continued to partake in the Ethiopian food when we moved out to the west coast and settled in the bay area.

Between North Oakland and Berkeley there must have been a dozen Ethiopian restaurants along Shattuck Avenue.  And no joke we tried them all, but we settled on a tiny one that usually had no customers, and awful service, but the food was stratospheric in quality.  Then we fast forward to two weeks ago.

Something happened while we gathered for my brothers wedding in Huntsville, Alabama, I met one of the bridesmaids who was Ethiopian.  After we had finished having a huge feast of Chinese food we were talking about how I have attempted to make Ethiopian food, but haven’t really been successful at it yet.  Our conversation, even though I was stuffed, made me crave Ethiopian food like I never had before.   Actually, we both started to crave the food.

This craving continued once I got back on a plane and back to Japan.  Spongy sour injera bread bounced around in my head, but since it was Passover I knew that I had to wait to be able to indulge in the fermented injera bread.  It was one of those cravings that eventually had to be satisfied.

So once Passover finished, the wife and I headed over to Queen Sheeba in Naka Meguro.  The rain kept on coming down on our way over to the restaurant, and compared to the beautiful spring weather the day before it was chilly.

As soon as we entered those Ethiopian aromas filled our hearts.  I ordered a glass of tej.  A honey mead wine that is seasoned with a hard to find Ethiopian spice called  Gesho.  The cloudy elixir was sweet and silky on my tongue.  I had a feeling that the tej was homemade and the friendly waitress confirmed that they make the tej themselves.

The first course was skewered goat roasted over charcoals.  The cubes of meat were succulent and sweetly fragrant.  This was then followed by the main course served up family style on a large round plate with dabs of the stew beautifully arranged.

The foods spices went straight to my head and my heart filled with joy.  To tear off a piece of injera bread with spicy red lentils, and stewed spinach.

My soul was as satisfied as my stomach with my fill of spicy lentil in this home style cooking.  I thank Rahel so much for getting me thinking, if not obsessing, about the wonderful cuisine of Ethiopia.

My new challenge is to try to cook up some of these dishes for myself.  I love being able to cook that which I cannot eat so easily.  And, if I can’t I know at  least I will always be welcomes at Queen Sheeba.

Coal Fired Roasted Goat

I’m Dreaming of a Pink Friday

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

Do Not Cry, It is Must

This Friday was gorgeous.  It all and all  a perfect spring day.  The sun shone so high in the sky that I had to roll up my long sleeves as I took an afternoon stroll.  The dust and pollen filled my nostrils with every breath, but it didn’t matter.  The day soothed my tired body.

Tokyo is on the other side of the cherry blossom peak.  That is when the trees have reached  past their full bloom and now are beginning to shed their pink petals like a snow flurries.  The petals flutter down from the canopies above and dust the ground in their pinkness.  It is a really magical time of year.  A time that seems like it is snowing yet the weather is warm, and the flakes are neither moist or cold.

Wandering through a small neighborhood park I came across some mothers and their children enjoying the last days of the cherry blossoms.  To be so thankful that the winter is over and that we all know the blazing heat of summer is not that far behind.  But I am getting ahead of myself.

Let us pause.  Take a moment to enjoy the sensation of the ever drifting pink petals.  Fluttering in the wind and landing around our feet.  We will have time enough to attempt to keep cool in the long humid days of summer.

Pink Rabbit under Cherry Blossom Trees

The Fallen Prophet

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Fallen Prophet

At one time all looked up with the blue skies behind him.  They all came to admire his strength and eloquence.  The way he could peer into the soul of a crowd.  The way in which he would happily sway in the springtime breeze.  Dancing in the trees while those celebrated below.  Some would come from far around to listen to him speak.  People were always moved when he revealed his heart.

It all ended too soon.  There were many more hearts that he wanted to open.  So many more inspirations that he wanted to give.

But he knew it was his time.  There would be no more moving prophecies.  He wanted to deliver so much more, but he knew that he would be departing this earth.

This is where I found him.  On a concrete wall in a small neighborhood in Tokyo.  Momentarily motionless, until a stiff breeze would pick him up and return him to where he came.

I was the only one to pause and pay homage to the prophet.  I saw the works that he accomplished in his short life.  A life to be memorialized.  The words spoken to be remembered.

All bow their heads for a moment of silence for the fallen prophet.








A Momentary Triptych of Cherry Blossoms

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Tripple Window Cherry Blossom

The time that we are allowed to spend on earth is so short.  One moment the time is here to be enjoyed and the next it has floated off.  We struggle to hold onto that time.  We desire to make those moments last a lifetime.  I strive to cherish the time that we have.

This freezing and stretching of time is one of the reasons that I have fallen so in love with the way of photography.

Photography allows me to capture those fleeting moments.  To be able to stretch that second into a lifetime of viewing.  I can always go back and reflect back on that moment.  All the elements with in the frame may no longer physically exist, but they live on in pixels, or silver halides.

Next week when I return to the same place where this image was taken it will no longer exist.  The petals of the cherry blossoms will have all drifted to another place.  The light will vary depending on the day, but I have this moment when all the elements aligned and the photograph was taken.

Enjoy those moments.  Reach out to them.  Search through family albums and relive moments that have passed.  Before we know it those memories will float away just as the petals fall from the cherry blossoms.


Cherry Blossom Self and Shadow

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Cherry Blossoms' Self

The beautiful cherry blossoms are out.  They survived the near typhoon force weather that hit Tokyo the day before I returned to Japan.

I really haven’t had the time or energy to go out and enjoy them this season, basically because I have just been in a haze of jet lagged exhaustion.  That all being said, I did get out of the house for a bit of a walk around today.

The sun was beautiful and the temperatures made me feel like it really is spring time.  The previous days all felt pretty cold to me.  Especially after spending such warm days in Miami and Huntsville.

The wind was whipping in over Tokyo Bay as this let the cherry blossoms do their dance for me.  White ones, pink ones all out their boogying to the spring time jam.  People were out enjoying some picnic lunches with friends under the canopy of blossoms.

As I wondered around a bit this afternoon I found myself remembering what it was to walk around last year at this time.  The Tohoku-Kanto tsunami and earthquake were on everyones mind as well as the ongoing nuclear disaster.  So much has happened in the course of one year.  We in Japan had to face every known disaster imaginable at one point over the last 12 months.  It was a year I would not like to repeat again.

It was at this time that my eyes truly opened to the beauty of spring.  The rebirth of all the nature that lays dormant during the cold short winter days.  The flowers were a sign of strength for the future.  A sign that we had made it this far, and that out of the disasters beauty can once again be found.

I have since found myself paying closer attention to the natural world even if they may be confined to terra-cotta pots and curbside gardens.  I make an effort to observe the moon as it goes through its phases.  Which fruits are ripe and hanging from the trees.

Even in this concrete jungle their is nature.  We should all pause to take notice among the neon glow and the endless data byte streams.  Nature is there.  All we have to do is to open our hearts and eyes to fill our hearts with joy.

Cherry Blossoms Have to Deal with Their Shadow Too

Waffle House, The Place to Pick Up Chicks, or at Least Get some Breakfast

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

Waffle House Coffee, Huntsville Alabama

Many years ago my brother, Seth, said something that I have never forgotten.  I may have forgotten where and why he had said it, but I will never forget what he said, “Waffle House is the place to pick up chicks!”  This may or may not be true, but it has always stuck with me.  What did he mean by that?  Can one really pick up chicks at the Waffle House?

Jerry and I had gotten up early to go grab some breakfast on our way to Huntsville International Airport.  We had done a search and had settled on the famous Blue Plate Cafe.  We both had wanted to experience a real down home southern breakfast and Blue Plate Cafe promised that.  We punched the coordinates into Jerry’s phone and we were on our way.

We pulled into the Blue Plate Cafe parking lot only to discover that it was closed.  DUH!  It was Palm Sunday in the Bible belt!  What were we thinking so Jerry said “Lets go to Waffle House!”  At least we knew that they would be open and quick about getting the food out,  because we needed to be at the airport to scoop up some people for my brother’s wedding.

We punched in Waffle House and found one just one exit before the airport.  Stomachs grumbling we were on our way again. Pulled off the highway and did a quick u-turn and we stepped into the Waffle House.  We were created with what only could be a synchronistic moment as Lynyrd Skynyrd came though over the sound system.  Jerry and I looked at each other and just smiled.  Welcome to Alabama we collectively thought to ourselves.

We slid onto the stools at the counter and ordered up our breakfast.  The waitresses were all friendly and the coffee flowed freely.  It was  a comforting to have that grill hopping and our food on the table in a matter of minutes.  This is where so much of America eats.  This is as far from the big city comfort eateries as one could get.  This was the real comfort food!  It was simple.  The food satisfied our souls.

The conversation was deep, as I dug into my cheese omelette and grits.  For those of you not born and raised int he south grits are made with chipped kernels of corn and prepared like a wet rice and seasoned with butter, salt and pepper.  As we gobbled up our food I thought about how hard the waitresses had to hustle for their paychecks.  Jerry wondered out loud to me that following the workings of a Waffle House could make for interesting documentary.  Real people dealing with daily life that only could be seen from the hustle of southern waitresses.

We finished up and left our waitress a nice tip for her hustle.  I really have no idea when I may be back in a Waffle House.  I am still not sure if they are the place to pick up chicks or not.  I do know that the Waffle House will be their waiting for me next time I’m in the American South.

Breakfast at the Waffle House, Huntsville Alabama


Waffle House Shuffle, Huntsville Alabama


My Waffle House Self, Huntsville Alabama

7 a.m. in Madison Alabama

Friday, April 6th, 2012

Madison Albama, White Picket Fence

My brother and I had crossed over some railroad track in our quest to find an Indian buffet restaurant in Huntsville, Alabama the afternoon after we had driven up from Miami.  I spotted a sign that said Historic Downtown Madison.  I wanted to stop but our stomach had the better of us and we pushed on to get our fill of some curry.

On the Monday following the wedding I had to be up at 6 a.m. to get Jerry to the airport on time.  It didn’t really bother me to be up so early because the time I am allowed to spend with my family is all precious.  As I was making my way for the countless time to Huntsville International Airport, to our left and right the fields were covered in an early morning mist.  The kind of mist that just hovers a few feet above the ground.

I imagined being taken back in time to when these northern hills of Alabama, were the only occupants of the area.  Just the hills, the grass, and that early morning fog.

Since I had time before I needed to meet up with my family I took a detour back to the hotel so that I could take an early morning walk around Madison.  The construction crews were already on site as I wandered around in the pre 7 a.m. sunlight.

The light filtered in through the majestic trees among the white picket fences.  The yards and porches reminded me to slow down and appreciate the land and the people of Alabama.

I really had little expectations from Alabama.  I know that is a bit sad, but in my mind not much came to me, but I was impressed with the land.  The land spoke to me.  The small town America, that is quickly vanishing, spoke to my heart.

As I wandered around crossing over the railroad tracks I thought to myself what it must have been like to grow up here at the turn of the century.  The hard times only out scaled by the beauty of the surrounding land.

These thoughts all rushed through my head like the morning fog as it began to disperse the higher the sun rose.  Madison was a beautiful trip back to a place I had never been.  All beautiful in the 7 a.m. sunshine.

Blue Door, Brick Wall, Madison, Alabama


Tree Trunk Flowers with Home, Madison Alabama

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